Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Christus Experiment by Rod Bennett

The Christus ExperimentThe Christus Experiment by Rod Bennett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

He’s been divinized, demonized, demythologized, and decoded. He’s been spoken for and spoken against, the best loved, least understood, most controversial figure in human history. All of which makes Jesus of Nazareth the single most tempting target for haunted Georgia billionaire Anson MacDonald and his pricy team of time-traveling scientists and historians. What if you could capture Christ?—bring him to our own time, make him sit for modern questions and get his answers on tape? Would he do miracles? Start a revolution? Would he disappoint his followers—or disappoint the skeptics?...
When I came across this book a month ago or so on Amazon I was intrigued. For one thing I knew that Rod Bennett was the author of Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words, which was widely acclaimed by those I trusted to be a great book. That seemed an unlikely follow up, a techno-thriller based around going back in time to grab Jesus Christ out of a crowd and bring him back to the present day for studying.

It was available free to borrow from Amazon Prime and it sat on my Kindle while I finished up other books. Then I read Jeff Miller's review (a key person I trust in book reviewing) and decided it was time to finally read it. Having read the Kindle sample which included Bennett's introduction, I knew he approached it in the right spirit.
This book is a spiritual and psychological adventure story full of wild and irresponsible religious conjecture, equally indefensible whether taken as theology or speculative fiction.
I enjoyed the adventure this book presents. I was very impatient through the first third of it because we were being teased with the identity of the person that "experts" were being gathered to meet in the billionaire's remote Utah compound. Thanks to the concept of the book, the "who" was no surprise and I wanted to get a look at the author's "Jesus." As it turns out, I really liked what the author did when pulling the Son of Man into modern time to be studied in a laboratory to see if he really was both God and man. Interestingly, just as in real life, it all depends on the person and their mindset as to whether they think Jesus is real or a fake. It is in the characters' thoughts that we see mirrors of our own doubts, dreams, and fears when it comes to God.

What I found most touching was the way that Jesus approached that characters, with a question that touched my own heart and made me think of my prayer time with a slightly guilty conscience. I will leave it to you to read the book and experience that question for yourself.

I also really enjoyed the way that Bennett handled the science fiction aspect of the story. There is inclusion of an element that made me flash straight back to Buffy the Vampire Slayer ... and I actually laughed out loud. Bennett handled the tension and adventure equally deftly so that I was zipping through the last part of the book in an agony of suspense to see the final outcome.

Theologically, as far as I could tell, the book was right on target for the faithful. As I mentioned already, several aspects of the book got me to thinking about my own spiritual life. In a way, this book reminds me of what C.S. Lewis might have done in the thriller genre. Narnia and Perelandra are but other names for what Bennett has given us.

I think I may have to get an actual printed copy. No higher praise exists because that means I'm going to start pushing it on my friends and family.


  1. Anson MacDonald is one of the pseudonyms that Robert A. Heinlein used.